Winona State baseball snags key NSIC wins

Tanner Olson, sports reporter

Winona State University‘s baseball team finished up their three-game series with the Mustangs with a close 9-7 win to complete their sweep and will come back to play Minot State University at home on Tuesday, looking to stay hot and add two more W‘s to their record.
To recap, Winona State won the previous two games with a final score of 2-1 in both games, but the offenses for both teams came alive and ran up the scoreboard, scoring more runs in their third game than the first two combined.
Each team threw at least five pitchers in a game where hits were plentiful for both teams.
Third-year Justin Firpo got the start for the Warriors and pitched three and one-third innings, giving up five runs on six hits.
Winona State got on the board in the third inning with fourth-year Joe Irhke leading off for the Warriors and doubling to center to get things rolling.
Second-year Nick Herbst singled to left-center on the next pitch to score Irhke and drive in the game’s first run to make it 1-0 Winona State.
Winona State was looking great in the bottom of the third, forcing two straight batters to ground out for a quick two outs, but Southwest Minnesota State found their groove and started a little rally, scoring four runs on five hits.
Third-year Matt Bezdicek highlighted the inning for the Mustangs, sending a Firpo fastball right over the right-field fence for a three-run home run, breaking the tie and putting Southwest Minnesota State on top at 4-1.
The two teams then traded runs, scoring in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Fast forward to the eighth inning where the Warriors found themselves down 7-8. After back-to-back singles from fourth-year Tanner Williams and fourth-year Austin Savary with two outs, third-year Derek Baumgartner roped a double to center and scored Williams to knot the game at 8-8.
Fourth-year Nicolas Herold took the mound for Winona State in the eighth inning and it was all Herold as he struck out two Mustangs and forced a ground out to get the Warriors bats back in action.
Fourth-year Nathan Loomis started Winona off with a four-pitch walk to start the inning and after a new pitcher for the Mustangs, the Warriors jumped on the opportunity, scoring two more runs courtesy of a fourth-year Sam Kohnle RBI and Williams SAC fly for Winona State. This put the Warriors back on top at 9-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Herold was then back on the mound for Winona State and was looking to pick up his first win of
the season.
After striking out the first batter, Southwest Minnesota State’s Bezdicek tripled to center and Southwest State had the game-tying run at the plate, giving the Warriors a bit of a scare. However, Herold had other plans as he struck out the remaining two Mustangs, picking up the victory for the Warriors as they completed their sweep in Marshall.
The Warriors, offensively, were paced by Kohnle, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and Irhke having one of his best games in a Warrior uniform, going 3-for-4 with a walk and one home run away from hitting for the cycle.
After the game, Kohnle talked about how important these three wins were for the team then and now moving forward.
“Our starting pitching was awesome. In the first two games, I think we only gave up one run total each game, so I would have to say, pitching and timely hitting were big for us this weekend,” Kohnle said.
Winona State was also supposed to travel to play at Minot State, but the teams had a change of plans as bad weather forced the Beavers to play in Winona.
With two very impressive pitching performances by both second-year Cameron Kramer and second-year Bailey Banaszynski, Winona State picked up two more key victories against a tough Minot State squad.
Winona State started their offensive explosion in the second inning picking up three runs to put the Warriors up 3-0 early in the ball game.
Third-year Carter Brinkman singled to right, scoring Savary and giving Winona State their first run of the game. Herbst knocked in two runs for the Warriors on a single to right with runners on second and third to cap off the inning.
Winona State doubled their run total in the next inning, putting three more runs on the board, including a first and third situation where fourth-year Zac Stange stole home, putting the Warriors up 6-0.
Kramer on the mound wasn’t messing around as he pitched five and two-thirds inning while striking out eight Beavers and only allowing one hit.
First-year catcher Martin Rodriguez for Minot State broke up Kramer’s no-hitter in the sixth.
By the end of the fourth inning, Winona State was in complete control doubling their already 6-0 lead to 12-0 and putting the game out of reach.
Loomis had a base-clearing triple to tack on three of the six runs scored in the fourth while Herbst took a pitch the distance cranking one over the right-field fence scoring another two Winona State runners.
Winona State would end up winning 12-1 after a late SAC fly run by the Beavers in the bottom of the sixth. Kramer (3-0) continued his magnificent 2021 season picking up his third win and dominating on the hill for the Warriors.
When talking about the game, Herbst was smiling from “ear-to-ear” when talking about the pitching.
“I can’t say enough about the pitching staff today, those guys were all locked in today and it was really fun to watch as a player in the outfield,” Herbst said.
Offensively for the Warriors, Herbst went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and one run scored, Baumgartner went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs scored, and Loomis went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored as well.
In game two, Minot State jumped on the board first scoring one run in the first inning but was quiet the rest of the way except for a seventh inning run.
Winona State claimed the sweep and increased their win streak to six games winning 5-2.
Second-year pitcher Bailey Banaszynski (3-2) got the start on the mound for Winona State and after a tough first inning bounced back in a big way and went seven strong innings striking out a season-high 13 Beavers on his way to allowing only three hits and two earned runs to his name.
Herold picked up his fifth save of the year as he could not be stopped striking out six Minot State batters in the final two innings and allowing one walk. Both pitchers combined to strike out a total of 19 batters in the nine innings played.
Famous for his offensive heroics at the plate this year, Derek Baumgartner showed off his arm on defense in the first inning as he took care of two baserunners in the first to help Banaszynski out of a jam.
He first caught a runner stealing second and then later fired a heat-seeking missile to second to catch the runner sleeping and notch the second out of the inning.
The fifth inning was the deciding factor for Winona State as they tacked on three more runs and broke open the game at 4-1 with Loomis doubling to center and Herbst ripping a single to bring him home.
Then, with runners on first and second, Williams found the gap in right-center and hit a double to the wall scoring Kohnle and Herbst.
The Beavers tried to muscle their way back after third-year Drew Behling snuck one over the fence just fair by the right-field pole and put the score at 5-2, but great pitching continued as that was the only run Minot State was going to get the rest of the game.
Warrior standouts on the day offensively include Williams going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Kohnle going 1-for-2 with an RBI, a run scored and three walks drawn.
Winona State is riding a six-game winning streak and will look to continue their success as they go on the road to Nebraska and take on Wayne State College on Wednesday, April 21 for a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) doubleheader before coming back home for five games.